Holy days fall within Freshers’ week

first_imgFor the first time in 33 years, the Islamic festival Ramadan is falling during Freshers’ week. Muslim Freshers will have to balance abstaining from all food and drink during daylight hours whilst participating in their introduction to Oxford student life.The festival lasts for one month and is traditionally centred around the family meal at sunset and tarawih prayers later at night with the community.Asma Nizami, a second year at Wadham, found fasting during her first term at University “really tiring and especially difficult,” saying she was “in an entirely new situation, trying to meet new people and make essay deadlines whilst balancing the demands of Ramadan.”Graduate Fresher, Samir Ahmed, is worried about missing the induction lunches around which the graduate Freshers’ Week is centred. “It’s going to be hard because you have to miss all the initial interaction with people you are tring to meet.”College welfare reps have been briefed by OUSU about the situation and are adjusting plans to make them more sensitive to the needs of any fasting students. OUSU VP (Welfare and Equal Opportunities), Aidan Randle-Conde told Cherwell “Ramadan can be one of the most important times of the year for Muslim students, even more so this year as the first day falls in Freshers’ Week.”Ed Mason, JCR president of Trinity, insists that “Trinity JCR always provides alternatives to traditional Freshers’ Week events. Also, we have information on how we can best provide Kosher or Halal meals at appropriate times.”Colleges have become increasingly sensitive to the needs of freshers over the last few years. This has been demonstrated in a concerted effort around Oxford to prove non-alcohol related freshers events to include students who don’t drink.Freshers’ Week has also coincided with the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, which is celebrated on Tuesday and Wednesday of 0th week. On Rosh Hashanah it is customary for families to gather together for the holiday meal, something this year’s Jewish Freshers will have to either forego or choose to remain at home for.Coming up to Oxford during a Jewish holy day last year, Andrew Freedman of Exeter College described Freshers’ Week as “more strange” and found himself “quite disorientated.”The president of the Oxford Islamic Society Hassan Malik says, “The ISOC provides services catered to the specific needs of Muslim students; in particular during the testing month of Ramadan.” Free meals are provided at the end of every fasting weekday for fasting Muslims and nightly prayers are held at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.ARCHIVE: 0th week MT 2005last_img read more